Category Archives: by Dr. Rengstorf

Posts by Prof. Rengstorf


By request, here is a book list. In no particular order, these are the books I used, referenced, or mentioned this summer, in or out of lecture



Parallax Distance Determination project

It’s maybe a little rough around the edges still, but we’re effectively out of time, so it’s done. I wanted to thank everyone who put some time into this extra project. I’ve tried to do a parallax project every summer since 2012, and this is the first time it’s worked out.

  • Team Pie-thons (Annie Chen, Kathryn Chan, and Daniel Michael) for their observing
  • Nathaniel Steenhuis for organizing the data reduction
  • Victor Qin, Nick Becker, Chris Wang, Arpit Kalla, and Jason Kim for the data reduction
  • Abby Stein, Daniel Michael (again), Arpit Kalla (again), Chris Wang (again), Alex Davenport, Victor Qin (again), Luke QI, Afura Taylor, and Nick Becker (again) for analyzing the data and/or writing the report.

We calculated 2002 KL6 to be about 0.071 +\- 0.001 AU away from Earth, which is only 0.5% off from the JPL Horizons predicted distance. Nice job, everyone!



That time when a student…

  • finds their asteroid for the first time


  • tells me how much fun she’s having working on a conservation of angular momentum problem at 11pm on a Saturday night.
  • realizes I’ve never done a differential correction, but I’m asking them to do it anyway
  • stays up late helping a teammate debug a code
  • realizes the stuff he heard in the classroom is not enough to answer a question on the problem set
  • looks up additional ways to solve the problem because the two ways presented in lecture and the handouts just isn’t enough ways
  • decides to spend their last summer as a high-school student away from home learning about astronomy, physics, and coding instead of making pizzas for $5/hr under the table like I did when I was their age

Damn, I love this job.

Let’s do this

So it turns out there’s nobody scheduled for Wednesday observing. Period. Not on the blog. Not outside the TA office. Not in the staff’s internal files.

Here is what we’re going to do. We are going to observe every asteroid tonight. No Observing notebooks. No regular teams. There are twelve teams. Each team pick one person to observe tonight. We will send you up in groups of 4 – early, middle, late. Please organize this amongst yourselves. I’ll be over in the computer lab in a little while to figure this out.

Oh, and no flat-field chore tonight. If it’s cloudy, I’ll get them personally during the night tonight. If it’s clear all night, the flats team will get them tomorrow after dinner. For now, use the week 4 flats for all your reduction needs.

Parallax update

Team Pie-thons was up during early shift tonight (Sunday). We were battling scattered clouds, CU-Boulder was watching a thunderstorm creep closer to Sommers-Bausch, and the Yale folks were also trying to see around some clouds, but we all managed to get some 2002 KL6 data – on the first attempt on the first night!

Now we just have to reduce the data and perform astrometry. I will be looking for volunteers to take this on (I know, along with everything else we have going on this week) during morning lecture tomorrow. I’ll have the full set of data & calibrations images with me. The Pie-thons have most of it, but I squeezed in a couple more images after they left for the shift change.

Thanks Pie-thons!

The Great Inter-site, Inter-program Parallactic Quadrangulation Experiment of 2016

Over the coming days, Etscorn Observatory (719), Sommers-Bausch Observatory (463), and Leitner Observatory (797), and NIRo Observatory (W11) will attempt to take simultaneous observations of NEA 2002 KL6. KL6 is the obvious choice: It’s making its closest approach to Earth on July 22 and is high in the sky pretty much all night. It’s moving ridiculously fast (8+ “/min) but it’s also ridiculously bright (V = 13.8). The Moon is entering its Waxing Obnoxious phase, but KL6 remains a healthy 55+ degrees removed from the Moon’s hateful, shadow-casting glare.

Here’s the procedure: you don’t need to do anything special. I will be responsible for any necessary ephemerides or finding charts. Teams will go up to Etscorn as scheduled. I will be coordinating with Dr. Falscheer at CU-B and Dr. Faison at Yale. If/when conditions are right, I will preempt whatever’s going on & the team on shift will capture a few minutes’ worth of KL6 data.

Expect this attempt to start Sunday or Monday evening.